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"Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls" by Monique W. Morris

Updated: Jan 30, 2020

PUBLISHER: The New Press

PUBLISHED DATE: March 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-1620970942

PAGES: 256

Monique W. Morris has done it again.

A while back I had the pleasure of reviewing her first book, Black Stats. And as much as Black Stats was extensively researched and illuminating, Pushout has gone above and beyond. This book is a call to action, and now I need to get the work.

Through anecdotal and quantitative evidence, Morris describes the urgent and dire situation facing young black girls and women. She outlines how all of us are failing the most vulnerable among us and provides concrete solutions for things we could do to mitigate the damage. Morris highlights that while most efforts to help black youth who are at risk focus on black boys and young adults - many times our society neglects the plight and unique circumstances facing young black women. She describes how we as a society, categorize good girls and "ghetto" or "ratchet" girls and how this stigmatization gives teachers, law enforcement, and predatory males permission to "do what thou wilt" to young black girls at alarming rates. She describes how girls unable to assimilate or conform to middle-class white values and cultural cues are deemed unworthy and disciplined harshly for even the slightest infraction. The most common infraction that could lead most young black girls, some as young as 4, to be handcuffed, body slammed, suspended from school, or arrested: asking a question.

In my personal life, I have seen this.

Noting how poor family structures, low performing schools, historic stereotyping, misogyny, transphobia, homophobia, and poor self-image exacerbates these problems, Morris paints a near bleak depiction of the challenges facing young black girls. Every single word of this book is urgent, but Morris doesn't leave you completely hopeless. She describes how caring community members - people who are willing to acknowledge the unique challenges of young black girls and women who are living on the margins - can step in with patience and respect and gives young black girls and women the support they need to overcome their obstacles.

Recommendation: Required. Particularly if you live and work in a community that serves a large population of at risk kids.

Audience: This book was not marketed to young adults, but I think many teens, particularly those like the teens interviewed in the book, would appreciate this book.

*I borrowed this audiobook on my library Hoopla account.

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